Decentralization, forest management, and forest conditions in Guatemala

Monica Erin Paulson Priebe, Tom Evans, Krister Andersson, Edwin Castellanos

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Top-down natural resource management approaches have been criticized as failing to sustainably protect forest resources. Decentralization of this management has become increasingly popular but there is a lack of consensus on whether or not decentralization has produced more effective natural resource management. Guatemala adopted a partially decentralized approach to forest management in 1996. This research examines the effects of decentralization on Guatemalan forest resources using a unique integration of social, physiographic, and land-cover change data. Results indicate that deforestation and reforestation rates both increased post-decentralization in areas with higher population and road densities, with a net forest cover increase post-decentralization. The primary shift was from passive forest conservation and monitoring pre-decentralization to an active forest harvest and reforestation effort. The number of employees dedicated to forestry activities is the most significant social variable in reforestation efforts post-decentralization.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)425-441
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Land Use Science
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 2 2015


  • Guatemala
  • decentralization
  • deforestation
  • land-cover change
  • reforestation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Earth-Surface Processes
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law


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